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Published: Friday, 4/16/2004

Area theater scene blossoms this weekend

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Maggie Welty as Claire and Brian Hillard as Limping Man in <i>Fuddy Mears</i> at the University of Toledo. Maggie Welty as Claire and Brian Hillard as Limping Man in <i>Fuddy Mears</i> at the University of Toledo.
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Director Kirby Wahl is momentarily stumped when asked to describe Fuddy Meers, which opens tonight in the Center Theater of the University of Toledo's Center for Performing Arts.

"I'd say it's a wacky comedy, but the term wacky is so overused. It's a bit surreal, a bit farcical," he says.

The play is about one day in the life of a woman named Clair, who wakes up one morning not knowing who or where she is.

"It turns out," Wahl says, that Clair has the kind of amnesia that allows her to learn things through the day, but the things she's learned go away when she falls asleep."

When asked if that isn't the plot of 50 First Dates, the recent Drew Barrymore-Adam Sandler romantic comedy, Wahl said, "I've been told it is, but I haven't seen that movie. It's also somewhat like Memento, although the guy in that movie forgot things real fast.

"What makes Fuddy Meers so interesting is that we in the audience never know any more than Clair does; her journey is our journey."

Wahl, a professor of theater at the UT, says that in the first scene, a gentleman introduces himself to Clair as her husband and explains who she is and how she came to have the strange sort of amnesia.

Through the course of the day, Clair must figure out if people really are who they say they are, relative to her.

Writer David Lindsay-Abaire "has given us a protagonist who doesn't do anything to further the plot action. She's totally reactive to what's around her. The reason it works is that we are in her shoes. We care because we're as confused as she is," Wahl says.

Maggie Welty. a physical therapy major at the university, plays Clair. "She's not a theater major, but she came to the audition and had the right quality and charm for the character," Wahl says.

Though Fuddy Meers is a very funny play, it's not for everyone, Wahl says, explaining that it contains some fairly strong language and a depiction of drug use.

Fuddy Meers is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. today, tomorrow, and April 21-24, with matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday and April 25 in the Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, UT faculty, staff, and alumni, and $8 for students. Information: 419-530-2375.

Bowling Green State University looks to the classics for its latest theater production, She Stoops to Conquer.

Oliver Goldsmith wrote his play in 1773, but its themes of class, courtship, and dysfunctional families resonate today.

Toledoan Ryan Zarecki stars as Charles Marlow, a young member of the upper class who longs for a wife but is terrified of women from his peer group. When he sets eyes on Kate, a comely barmaid played by Alisa Cutcher of Oregon, he figures she is fair game, but she has other ideas. Dr. Jonathan Chambers directs the period romp.

The show is scheduled in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre in University Hall at 8 p.m. today, tomorrow, and April 23 and 24, with matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday and April 25. Tickets are $10 for adults, students, and seniors and $5 for youngsters 11 and younger. Information: 419-372-2719.

For its concluding show of the 2003-04 season, the Croswell Opera House in Adrian is presenting the family musical Honk!

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of The Ugly Duckling, Honk! follows the adventures of Ugly as he is chased from the barnyard because of his odd looks. As he finds his way home, Ugly encounters a variety of creatures who teach him love and acceptance.

John Franklin Hopkins of Toledo makes his Croswell debut as Ugly; Lean Kittle of Adrian plays Ugly's mother, Ida; Bruce Hardcastle of Brooklyn, Mich., is Ugly's father, Drake; Galen DeVriendt of Toledo is Turkey, Tim Ray of Adrian is the Bullfrog, and Michael and Erin Yuen of Adrian are, respectively, the hungry Cat and Ida's best friend, Maureen. The cast also includes performers from Lamberville, Tecumseh, Blissfield, Burton, and Osseo, Mich.

Honk! opens tonight and is scheduled at 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sundays through April 25. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for senior and students, and $15 for youngsters 12 and younger.

The Croswell has planned two specials in conjunction with Honk! Tickets purchased today for tonight's show will be half-price, and before each Saturday matinee, Ugly and his friends will be dining at the Triple D Coffee House in Adrian, where audience members are welcome to join them for lunch. Reservations for the luncheon, $10 for adults and $5 for youngsters, and the show may be made through the Croswell Opera House, 129 East Maumee St., Adrian. Information: 517-264-7469 or on-line at www.croswell.org.

The Boston-based Chamber Repertory Theatre celebrates the spirit of the storyteller Tuesday when it brings Encore! to the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania.

One of four companies to perform across American, the CRT adapts famous pieces of literature for the stage. Encore! comprises five classic short stories: Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, W.W. Jacobs' The Monkey's Paw, Guy de Maupassant's The Necklace, Edgar Allen Poe's Tell-Tale Heart, and Mark Twain's The Celebrated Jumping Frong of Calavaras County.

The performance is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $13.25 and must be reserved in advance. Information: 800-225-7988.



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